Former ESPN football analyst and NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury engaged in a long, sometimes bizarre, email exchange with the sports gossip site Deadspin last week that highlighted the increasing influence of niche news outlets and the questions of journalistic ethics that go along with this power.
Deadspin, which is owned by Gawker Media (currently facing legal issues with their flagship site), has posted a series of stories about Salisbury’s alleged penchant for showing off nude cell phone photos of himself. This habit, confirmed by a few anonymous sources, has, according to Deadspin, likely led to Salisbury’s dismissal from ESPN and, more recently, from Dallas sports radio station KRLD.
Last week Salisbury fired back, sending a series of emails to Deadspin editors that threaten legal action and refer to a searing tell-all book. The emails are rambling with little concern for punctuation, capitalization, and coherence. Deadspin introduced the initial email strain as “the mother of all media meltdowns.”
In the emails, Salisbury claims that the Deadspin stories have ruined his reputation and cost him future jobs (a quick Google search of “sean salisbury” yields mostly Deadspin stories). He says that he isn’t limiting his legal action to Deadspin, writing, “U guys r being sued be a vicious attorney as is CBS and espn.”
Much of the exchange surrounds Deadspin’s use of anonymous sources. Salisbury goes to great lengths to attack the validity of the sources’ stories. At one point he writes, “by the way the girl u guys tracked down after two years who lied about the cell phone s— that u guys ran with a few months ago is the same woman who begged me on three different occasions to have sex with her and I said no.” (Deadspin’s Salisbury posts here).